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Entree/ Pork

Sheet Pan Dinner

How much easier can a recipe get?

Isn’t everyone looking for easy, fast recipes that give them a little more time with their families; and it’s Christmas eve and who has time to cook now or even wants to cook days after Christmas. All we want to do is still down and relax and enjoy the holidays with our families and friends.

Merry Christmas to everyone and have the merriest times with your love ones.

Whether it’s a nice piece of fish and some vegetables or potatoes or all vegetables. You will love how quick this is to throw together. Some great combinations to consider when you are wanting to make a sheet pan dinner are chicken breast and some broccoli and onions(coat your chicken with either Panko or parmesan cheese, chicken with some nice squash/zucchini, salmon with baby bok choy, maybe even some pork chops with potatoes, carrots, and apples.

If you are making chicken, why not top the breast with a little pasta sauce and mozzarella and then add some vegetables around the chicken. Try encrusting your salmon with some parmesan cheese and add some broccoli and asparagus to the sheet pan. Once you try doing a whole dinner on a sheet pan you will be sold on the idea for a quick, easy, no mess meal. I want to try a stir-fry sort of meal with some shrimp, broccoli, onions, carrots and throw in some water chestnuts and maybe a little fish sauce and soy for spicing it up. I recently saw one recipe where the chicken was covered with chimichurri sauce and on the sheet pan with some potatoes and onions.

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Entree/ Pork

Stir Fry with Pork, Eggplant and Greens

A quick, easy dinner, get out that wok or skillet!

Are you one of those people who likes cooking more in the Fall/Winter than the summer? I love cooking anytime of the year, but there is something about cooking when the temperatures start to drop a little and the leaves are falling/or turning colors (that doesn’t happen until later in the year for us here in Texas.) that makes me want to do a big hearty meal.

This isn’t a big hearty meal but actually a very healthy quick dinner you can throw together for a one pan stir-fry that will have you wanting to try your own variations.

Do you love eggplant as much as I do? It’s hard for me to pass up eggplant parmesan and I love eggplant caponata. I’ve fried eggplant chips and served with a drizzle of honey after having this tapas in Spain; and I’ve seen eggplant hummus at Trader Joe’s but have not tried that yet.

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Entree/ Pork/ Salads

Grilled Pork Chop and Roasted Apple Salad

Eat those greens!

Do you love your greens and vegetables? Did your parent always say “eat your vegetables”. I feel like I’m saying that to my husband these days as he just informed me, after almost 47 years of marriage, that he doesn’t really like most vegetables. He just eats them because I make them and if he doesn’t I guess there isn’t much left to eat other than meat. He does like salads though so I get to experiment a lot with recipes.

I love greens whether it is cooked cabbage, kale, chards, baby bok choy, spinach, lettuces, you name it I like greens. Have to admit, though, that I have never cooked collard greens. We have even grilled romaine lettuce and that’s delicious when you turn it into a chopped Caesar salad. I’ve mixed kale with mashed cauliflower, I’ve put it in turkey kale soup and I’m sure there are a lot of other recipes out there using greens in recipe that I haven’t even come across yet.

I love looking at menus and trying to recreate dishes. A friend of mine was in New Orleans last year and dined at K-Paul’s so I went to their website to see what she might be eating (weird huh). This salad sounded so interesting and there really isn’t a need for a recipe. After thinking about making this salad I decided to turn it into a main dish salad by adding the grilled pork chops that I glazed with some more of the red apple balsamic vinegar, then cut the chops into strips to put on top of the salad. I love pork and apples together and this way I did not have to come up with a meat to go with the salad. My daughter asked me if I had ever put pork on a salad and I thought “why not”, we put shrimp, chicken, steak, tuna, and even bbq on top of some shredded cabbage so why not a pork chop.

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Entree/ Pork

Pulled Pork Tacos

Another use for pulled pork from that summer bar-b-q.

Can you believe summer is here (and half over) and after all the nice spring weather and all that rain we had back in May, it is now hot as blazes here in Texas. We are into July and August is looking like a really hot month. We are building an outdoor kitchen (which has been a long process to even get started) and I know we are going to enjoy it; now I want some cooler weather so I even want to sit outside. With fans for the summer and heaters for the cooler months, we will be able to do even more cooking outdoors.

Who doesn’t love tacos? Fish tacos have become one of my favorites and I have a salmon belly taco recipe I’m wanting to try this summer using some salmon my husband caught in Alaska. This pulled pork taco is just another recipe to use up some leftover pulled pork you might have leftover from the 4th of July.

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Entree/ Pork

Pork Tenderloin with Shiitake Mushroom Sauce

My Open Table Experience at Kona Grill

I received an invitation from Open Table to do a post for their blog. I have been using Open Table for years to make restaurant reservations both locally and while traveling. I love it.

Many restaurants use Open Table. Go to their website or put their app on your phone then you simply put in the date you want to eat at the restaurant (or it will give you a list of restaurants that have open tables) and the approximate time and you will get a choice of 3-4 different times. Pick the one you want and reserve. You will be sent an email and if you have the app you can go to it and check any upcoming reservations. If you need to cancel for any reason, do it on the app. Looking back at my account, it looks like I used Open Table when we were at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville last summer and also at the Empress Hotel in Victoria, BC (for tea), and again while in Vancouver last summer.

So, we had planned to go to Kona Grill on a Saturday night. I went to Open Table’s site, put in the date and 3 or 4 times came up; I chose the 6:45 slot and that was it! No getting to the restaurant and wondering if we would get a table.

We started with drinks and potstickers. My husband ordered the sea bass with pan-asian ratatouille, which he said was delicious. I’m glad we didn’t order a salad because the entrees were so large that I could not finish what was on my plate. I chose the almond crusted pork tenderloin with shiitake mushroom sauce. That, I knew I could recreate in my own kitchen.

Pork tenderloin is one of my favorite cuts of pork to cook; it is tender and cooks very fast. I cut my tenderloin into three pieces to cook and then sliced after removing from the oven.

I’ve included a picture of my dish from that night so you can see how they compare. I made my mashed potatoes much thinner than they did and I plated the bok choy a little different. The restaurant mounded the mashed potatoes on the plate (the thickest potatoes I have ever been served) and laid the steamed (or sautéed) bok choy over the potatoes to cover them; it kind of looked like a green igloo. I decided to use a ring mold to mold my potatoes and set them on top of the baby bok choy, which I think giving the dish a much prettier presentation.

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Entree/ Pork

Garlic Lime Pork Tenderloin

I’ve made this four times now.

I’m sure you have all prepared pork tenderloin some way. We prefer pork tenderloin over a pork loin roast because it is so juicy and tender and quick to cook.

One of the easiest ways I have prepared it is to cut into about 1 1/2″ pieces, wrap with bacon, marinade and throw on a grill for a quick cook. But after trying this recipe when were in Austin for Thomas’ birth, I don’t think I will ever do pork tenderloin any other way. Since that weekend, I have made this 3 other times.

Cook’s Illustrated gave three versions of the marinade. I have tried two, this one and the orange garlic lime. I like them both and I will give you the orange marinade at the end of this post.

I don’t know if you have ever bought a Cook’s Illustrated magazine but if you haven’t you should. They try and try a recipe until they get it just right and they focus a lot on the techniques of cooking which makes it easier to cook great food with their detailed instructions. The paper copy of the magazine always has black and white sketches of the foods but my digital copy on my iPad starts black and white it it slowly changes to a beautiful colored photograph of the food they have just prepared.

According to CI the shape of the pork tenderloin does have much surface area for browning. Pounding the meat into a flat steaks gives more surfaces for the meat to touch the grill leave more flavor into every bite.

I hope you will try this recipe and if you have a favorite pork tenderloin recipe, please leave in “comment” section at the bottom of the post. That’s below the three little pictures at bottom.

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Entree/ Pork

Pork Belly Taco

Ok, ok, enough with the pork belly.

You all are probably sick to death of hearing about pork belly. For years I have talked about things I have had in restaurants made with the delicious meat and the sandwiches and items I have seen on menus while visiting in Chicago.

I finally got around to making the Braised Pork Belly and then made several other items using the meat.  I think this is the last of the pork belly recipes (at least for a while, or I may run you all off; oh, I forgot I did an Eggs Benedict Scramble with pork belly I will probably save until the Fall).

Take a look at Big Star’s menu. They use roasted pork, the pork belly, roasted chicken and tilapia, potatoes and chihuahua cheese in a lot of their dishes. All their menu items are so different from all the Tex-Mex we find here in Texas hence the reason I’m always talking about their menu. Read their “about” section of how they got started — interesting.

Who doesn’t like tacos of any kind? Typically, I’m going to want a crispy shell that falls apart with your first bite and dribbles sauce and lettuce/tomato all over your once clean top; but this time I’m using some homemade corn tortillas (not by me but by someone making fresh corn/flour tortillas in the grocery)

This is a pretty simple straight forward taco — a corn tortilla shells, crispy pork belly pieces that you crisp up from the braised pork belly you made, lots of crumbled queso fresco, cilantro, some chopped sweet onion and some green sauce.  Since I didn’t want to come up with their recipe for their sauce, I simply bought a jar of sauce called “That Green Sauce”.  It’s made with jalapeños, poblanos, green tomatoes and a bunch of ingredients I can’t pronounce. So any green (or red) sauce will work fine.

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Entree/ Pork

Pork Marsala with Creamy Spinach Grits

Wonderful pork and the creamiest grits.

The hot days of summer will soon be here and you may not want to be cooking that much indoors. For us, we do most of our cooking outdoors once the weather is hot enough to jump in the pool with a glass of wine while the aroma of something on the grill or smoker drifting our way. You have to eat, right, whether you are cooking indoors or outdoors and you can’t eat COLD food all summer anyway.

So, I guess it doesn’t really make much difference if this dish sounds like “comfort food” or not, everyone needs a little comforting every once in a while anyway.

This is one of those recipes that I started with about 4 recipes, pilfered this and that from them all and came up with the one I made for the two of us one night. I had no mashed potatoes so I decided to serve with creamy grits.

One weekend my friend was beaching it with some friends and texted me and asked if I had heard of grits and greens. They were having them for dinner that night and the though intrigued me. I knew I loved grits and adding something green would be visually appearing to the dish. I think they were using kale or chard; spinach my my choice of greens since there just happened to be some in my refrigerator.

Don’t you just love buying those little packages of pork tenderloin. They are so easy to prepare just about any way. Open the package, remove a little of the silver skin, slice and you are ready for this recipe.
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Entree/ Pork

Chinese Fried Rice

Good to make with leftover chicken, bacon or pork.

This is another recipe that my sister and I have made for years (decades). I added a couple of extra ingredients and did the egg a little different but in the end it is just as delicious as the dish we have been making all out lives.

Since I was serving my Egg Foo Yung with this fried rice and I didn’t need the whole cane of bamboo shoots, water chestnuts or bean sprouts, I decided to add them to the recipe. If you want to make our original version then you can just leave out those three ingredients. BUT, I hope you will make the Egg Foo Yung along with the fried rice as a side dish.

Originally the egg was beaten and stirred into the finished dish. But I decided to beat the egg with a little soy and sesame oil and cook it like an omlette, really quick in a hot pan, flip it and then cut in strips. The egg has a better look like this rather than kind of mushing up with the rice the other way.

Just about any dish you have in a Chinese restaurant can probably be made better at home.There’s a Walnut Shrimp dish I had once in Austin and I will be posting that soon.
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Appetizers/ Bread/ ColdApp/ Entree/ HotApp/ Pork

Momofuku’s Steamed Buns and Quick Pickles

Soft and delicious buns and the pickles are bad either.

Here’s the second installment of the pork belly saga.

Thinking of Steamed Buns brings up thoughts of dim sum and being in Chinatown/San Francisco. Back in 2001 (just a week before 9/11 happened) we were in San Francisco/Napa with our friends Peggy and Gordon. While in San Francisco we were in Chinatown and went for dim sum at supposedly one of their best places. Well, Peggy and I both can now hear the word “dim sum” and it always gets a smile and chuckle from us.

We didn’t know what to order and it seemed like everything put on our plates was sweet and gooey. I remember the buns but not what was in ours, something sweet and gooey I’m sure. Anyway, it was a fun experience watching all the waitpeople come by with their carts of goodies. Too bad we weren’t up on what to order off the menu.

Since, that experience we have had dim sum with our son/daughter-in-law in Chicago and they’re experts on everything on the menu and we have enjoyed it very much and will be much better prepared the next time on what to order.

So for this recipe you will need the Braised Pork Belly recipe that I posted a few days ago and the cucumbers that are used in this little Pork Belly Steamed Bun Sandwich.

I do hope you will try these little buns, or you could make a pulled pork sandwich using these little white buns.

I think these Steamed Buns, the Quick Pickled Cucumbers, Pork Belly and the glaze make one terrific bite of a sandwich and you won’t regret the hours it takes making the pork belly or the buns. I’m giving you the pickle recipe along with the steamed buns just because the pickles are so quick and easy and the “pickle” post would be all of about two lines long. So, you can eat these pickles with whatever you chose; I made them to go with the Pork Belly and Steamed Bun sandwich.

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Entree/ Pork

Braised Pork Belly

And she said oink, oink, oink all the way home or at least into my pot.

Food trends come and go. In 2013 we had our cupcakes (they’ve been around for quite a while), pretzel buns, sriracha, bacon, egg on top of everything.

From what I have read on some internet chats the top trending things now are citrus flavorings, (especially grapefruit), craft cocktails including “adult” milkshakes, Asian bowls, raw meats, bitter greens, anything fermented, bourbon, oysters, vegetable-based dishes; noodle bars, “Spam” dishes, tortas, biscuits, yeahhhh and pork belly (Lardo) is still on the list,  smoked everything, designer brand-name meats, Korean inspiration in our kitchens, woooah and the rise of the pressure cooker.

I love my pressure cooker and I do use it from time to time; it is the quickest way I know how to make a good stew. Just throw in the meat and cook for about 20 minutes and you have fork tender stew meat; and I can cook a pot of beans in less than 30 minutes.

Over the last few years I have seen pork belly in a lot of things. Pork Belly taco is great from Big Star restaurant in Chicago, pork belly on steamed buns (recipe in a couple of days along with the steamed buns),  pork belly cut into little lardons and fried until crispy as a garnish for a good bowl of creamy soup. I’ve seen pork belly served on top of french fries, and my favorite is a pork belly BLT sandwich with arugula and a tomato fennel jam (Longman and Eagle); and I may try that one with some of my left over braised pork belly.

So, what is pork belly anyway? It’s a boneless cut of fatty meat from the belly of a pig. Both bacon and the pork belly start as a cut from the fatty underbelly of “porky”. Curing the piece is what turns it into bacon (my son, Paul, smokes his pork belly and turns it into bacon), but braising that same piece of meat turns it into the most mouth watering bite you will ever taste. Some say pork belly is the new bacon.  I love them both.

So I’ve decided instead of having one long post with a thousand pictures I would break this pork belly marathon into 3 or 4 different post and post them a few days apart.

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Entree/ Pasta/ Pork

Spinach Fettucini with Sweet/Hot Sausage

Good on a cold winter’s night.

Nothing taste better to me on a bone chilling night than pasta, a good salad and maybe some homemade bread or even a good loaf of some artisan bread you picked up at the store.

There are so many pasta and sauce recipes out there that you could probably make a different pasta each week and never have to repeat a recipe.

I found this recipe in a Creme de Colorado cookbook about 20 years ago and I have been making it ever since. I remember the first time I made this dish I was catering an event at a local art gallery. Two people came up to me after the dinner and said they would like me to cater the exact same dinner for them.  So, I did make it again and actually a few more times before I ever TASTED the dish. Now, you may say, how could you do that. I don’t have an answer. Sometimes I read a recipe and I know I will like it. I guess I felt no need to sample the finished dish.  After making the dish several times (I finally tasted it) it has become a favorite of mine. I love the sweet and hot taste of the Italian sausage together with the sauce. I heard the judges on a cooking show say “if you aren’t tasting, you aren’t cooking”, guess I should start tasting some as I go.

This recipe has a lot of olive oil and butter and of course you could always cut down on the oil and butter that make up the sauce and probably substitute some broth in place of it. If I were you I would follow the recipe the first time as written and then tweak the second time you make it. I cooked 1 lb. each of the hot and sweet sausage and you do want both the sweet and hot flavors or the different sausages. Sometimes if I find the sausage at the butcher counter then I will buy just 1/2 lb. of each. The day I made this I decided to go on and cook the whole package of each and add some extra meat to the dish. You can either freeze your extra sausage for another use or add it to the fettuccini.

I made this for our Bunco Christmas get together last week and it was a big hit. Thanks ladies for being my guinea pigs (tasters is a better term I guess).

Do you have a favorite pasta dish? If so, I’d like to hear about it; please leave in the comment section below.

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